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Talking With Aging Parents about Assisted Living

assisted living

WHAT ARE THE SIGNS that an aging parent or grandparent is ready for assisted living, and how do you broach the subject with them? This can be a very difficult transition for everyone involved, so make sure you can recognize the appropriate time to bring it up.

Five Signs It’s Time to Consider Assisted Living

If your loved one is showing these signs, they would probably benefit from an assisted living community like Evergreen Village in Prescott, AZ:

  1. Difficulty walking or fear of falling. If they have limited mobility to this degree, it can limit their activities and social engagements.
  2. Changes in their appearance. Seniors won’t always admit when they’re struggling with dressing, grooming, and personal hygiene.
  3. Increasing medical needs. In old age, particularly while recovering from a heart attack or surgery or managing chronic conditions like diabetes, problems that used to be minor can easily become larger health issues without medical attention.
  4. Memory loss. A senior struggling with their memory may forget to eat or to take their medication, get lost, or overlook dangers or problems.
  5. Growing caregiver costs. Caring for a loved one can increasingly lead to missing work or having less time for children or a spouse, as well as mounting financial and emotional costs. This can happen gradually.

Raising the Subject of Assisted Living

A good approach to bringing up the topic of assisted living with a loved one who may react poorly to the idea is to start with a family meeting. Everyone can be together and get on the same page about their wishes for the parent or grandparent’s safety and well-being. The initial meeting likely won’t result in a fully-formed, perfect plan, but it’s a good place to start.

Choose a Time and Place

Reach out to the rest of the family and discuss why you think you should arrange a family meeting and plan on the time to have it. Coordinating everyone for the meeting might be the hardest part, so try to find a time and location that are convenient for everyone involved. If someone lives out of town, make sure to include them remotely through a video chat or a conference call.

Create an Agenda for the Meeting

There is going to be a lot to cover in the meeting about assisted living, and it can be helpful to have a detailed agenda laid out. You don’t want to forget important items or leave the discussion open for getting sidetracked, but remember that a single meeting won’t be the end of it either. Choose three or four topics to be the main focus, and make sure everyone who will be at the meeting has the agenda so they can be prepared.

Keep the Tone Positive

A meeting where everyone feels comfortable to share their thoughts will be the most successful, but conversations around the decision to move parents into assisted living can often turn out very negative. Consider setting certain expectations to set a positive tone:

  • Silence or turn off cell phones.
  • Keep an open mind.
  • Listen compassionately.
  • Allow everyone time to speak.
  • Avoid using “you” statements such as “you need this,” “you’re acting this way,” and “you should,” and instead use “I” statements like “the way I see it,” “I think,” “I feel,” and “I’m worried that…”
  • Focus on solutions, not problems.

The Family Meeting

Once everyone is present with agendas in hand for the meeting, get started. Encourage your elderly loved one to go first, sharing what they want for their future, then invite other family members to chime in. Take notes as the meeting goes. You want to keep track of key priorities, decisions made, issues that remain unresolved, and next steps to take. Your notes will help you remind your parent and the family what the meeting has accomplished and what still needs to be addressed, and you can use them in the next meeting.

Manage Your Expectations

There will always be a spectrum of opinions in a meeting with many people present, so don’t assume you’ll be able to achieve perfect consensus about a subject like assisted living. Try not to get stuck when someone disagrees. Change happens slowly, so try to gain their support with questions like, “I know you don’t agree on this right now, but are you willing to think it over?” You can also work together to brainstorm alternative solutions that more of the family will be satisfied with.

Plan Regular Meetings

Any big life decision takes time to sort out all the details, so regular meetings will be very helpful in giving family members time to process everything and follow up on the next steps. At every meeting, you can share updates and make more decisions. Breaking the project up into multiple meetings takes the pressure off to solve it all at once.

Evergreen Village Prescott Can Help

Even when you begin with the best intentions and concern for the well-being of your loved one, assisted living is a very sensitive subject that can cause tension and lead to bad outcomes. Evergreen Village is happy to help, such as with a visit of our community or providing a list of our services and amenities. You can learn more about us on our business page, and make sure to check the map before you head our way.

Top image used under CC0 Public Domain license. Image cropped and modified from original.
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